Matthew B.’s review published on Letterboxd:
Satoshi Kon is one of the most respected filmmakers I had not yet seen a movie from, and his reputation had me very excited to check out a number of his works. Finally, with Perfect Blue, I had the opportunity to experience one of Kon's most highly-praised works, and I am thankful for the chance to finally see one of his films.
Perfect Blue is a fascinating story told with a relatively-simple animation style. I was surprised at the raw quality of the animation initially, expecting some of the more visually stunning animation of Studio Ghibli or Ghost in the Shell. Once I adjusted to the visual style, though, I was sucked into the film's thoroughly captivating story. Later in the story, the film takes several more visual risks, making the overall experience far more rewarding.
Reminiscent of Black Swan (Kon's influence on Aronofsky's films has been well-documented, and is on full display here), the film examines the effects and pressures of celebrity on the human mind. Told in the style of a psychological thriller, Perfect Blue is compelling and full of clever twists and turns, with just enough left unexplained to keep the viewer satisfied. We follow Mima, a pop idol who has quit singing in order to pursue an acting career, as her quest for fame slowly corrupts and drives her to madness. This is a sharp social commentary as well as a first-rate thriller, and feels more effective as an anime at conveying its themes than Black Swan did as a live-action work. The ending, particularly the closing line, is pitch-perfect.
For a prescient film about the state of celebrity obsession with some cutting-edge writing, Perfect Blue is an excellent film that should appeal to fans of Aronofsky's work or the anime genre. I was put off slightly by some of the film's gratuitous use of sexual violence in one scene, but I will admit that it served the plot (even if it did go on longer than necessary). All in all, this was an encouraging introduction to Satoshi Kon's work, and has me looking forward to other films like Paprika and Millennium Actress.
Thanks to @George for recommending this film as part of my 100 followers celebration.